THE European Union (EU) has formally stated its readiness to observe Zimbabwe’s forthcoming harmonised elections saying it was willing to assist in ensuring the polls go smoothly.
This emerged during the meeting between Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lieutenant-General (Retired) Dr Sibusiso Moyo and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ms Federica Mogherini in Brussels on Friday.
Briefing The Herald on the closed-door meeting, Ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa said the European bloc wanted to walk with Zimbabwe through its economic and political reforms.
“The vice president of the European Commission who is the special representative for external affairs of the European Commission Frederica Mogherini received the Minister very cordially. She said the EU looked forward to participating in the election process in Zimbabwe, support it as much as they can. The protocol for observing the elections is being negotiated and she hoped it would be concluded soon, but the statement that the EU would observe the elections was officially made at this meeting today,’’ Ambassador Chipaziwa said.
‘‘They welcomed the political and economic reforms taking place in Zimbabwe and hoped that the elections would be free and fair. The EU hoped to accompany Zimbabwe through its economic and political processes. The past is the past, they said, but while the past will not be forgotten, it would not affect the future,’’ he added.
The European bloc last observed elections in Zimbabwe in 2002 when the then head of the EU Observer Mission Mr Pierre Schori was booted out of the country for allegedly violating his visa conditions.
This marked the low point in Zimbabwe-EU relations and saw the EU buy into the bilateral dispute that flared between Zimbabwe and Britain in the wake of differences over the land reform programme.
On his part, Dr Moyo assured the EU that Zimbabwe would compensate farmers who lost land in line with the country’s laws
‘‘The Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs did say there would be compensation for those affected by land reforms,’’ Ambassador Chipaziwa said.
Mr Neven Mimica (Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development), who met President Mnangagwa earlier this year, promised there would be more aid in addition to the $234 million already pledged by the EU.
Zimbabwe relates to the EU through the African Caribbean and Pacific group, a development that saw Dr Moyo meet with the secretary general of the ACP Dr Patrick Gomez, who also expressed support for the new dispensation in Zimbabwe.
‘‘Dr Gomez was saying that they are very supportive of the new dispensation in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a key member of the ACP group, so they are hoping that Zimbabwe will run with the agenda of the ACP group,’’ Ambassador Chipaziwa said.
Dr Moyo gave Dr Gomez a short narrative of what happened in the country in November 2017, culminating in the resignation of Mr Robert Mugabe and the ascension of President Mnangagwa.
From his meeting with Dr Gomez, Dr Moyo addressed a group of Dutch businessmen whom he encouraged to come and invest in Zimbabwe as some of them were supervising their operations in Zimbabwe from their bases in South Africa
As he wound up his highly successful three-nation tour that took him to the United States, Britain and Belgium, Dr Moyo delivered a special message from President Mnangagwa to Belgium Prime Minister Mr Charles Michel.
The message was handed over during Dr Moyo’s meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Mr Didier Reynders, who expressed Belgium’s commitment to not only strengthening bilateral relations with Zimbabwe, but also unlocking further opportunities for finance once Zimbabwe settles its 1,3 million Euro debt with Brussels.
Minister Moyo wound up his trip with an address to a business seminar organised by the Zimbabwe Embassy in Brussels, where he unpacked the opportunities that abound in Zimbabwe, telling investors that the time to come and invest had arrived.